Gay hospital chaplain loses discrimination appeal against Church of England


Re: Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564


This was an appeal from the EAT decision UKEAT/0072/16. The appellant, a gay clergyman, was prevented by the Church of England from taking up a job in the NHS as a hospital chaplain after he married his partner. This appeal considered the construction of the Equality Act 2010, s 26 in relation to alleged harassment, 53, 54 and Sch 9, para 2 in relation to direct discrimination.

The Court dismissed the appeal. Underhill J held that he had “no difficulty understanding how profoundly upsetting Canon Pemberton must find the Church of England’s official stance on same-sex marriage and its impact on him. But it does not follow that it was reasonable for him to regard his dignity as violated, or an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive” environment as having been created for him, by the Church applying its own sincerely-held beliefs in his case, in a way expressly permitted by Schedule 9 of the Act. If you belong to an institution with known, and lawful, rules, it implies no violation of dignity, and is not cause for reasonable offence, that those rules should be applied to you, however wrong you may believe them to be. Not all opposition of interests is hostile or offensive”.

Thomas Linden QC was involved in this case.